It's been over 75 years since vitamin E was discovered. In that time, it has made a remarkable transformation from being relatively unknown to the vitamin of choice for many people. The popularity of vitamin E can be attributed to the amount of research that has been conducted in recent years regarding its health benefits. We now know that vitamin E boosts health in a variety of ways.
One of the ways that vitamin E bolsters health is by acting as an antioxidant. During cellular metabolism, oxygen creates by-products called free radicals. If left unchecked, these free radicals damage cells and cause heart problems, cancer, cataracts and more. Vitamin E, along with other antioxidants like vitamin C and selenium, eliminates the damage that can be caused by free radicals by binding with them and creating harmless compounds.
As an antioxidant, vitamin E prevents cholesterol from oxidizing and forming plaque in the arteries. It improves the circulatory system and aids the blood's ability to clot, keeping the heart healthy. Studies show vitamin E to have other benefits as well. It boosts the immune system, speeds up healing, and in some women, decreases symptoms of premenstrual syndrome and some breast diseases. Vitamin E has also been proven to reduce the effects of conditions like Alzheimer's disease, cataracts, diabetes, Parkinson's disease and some cancers.
With so many benefits, people may think they should take a vitamin E supplement, but experts advise against this. Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin, which means it is stored in the fat tissues of the body for up to six months. Any excess vitamin E within that time is stored in the liver, which can cause health problems. According to experts, most people get their required daily amount of vitamin E, eight milligrams for women and 10 for men, simply by eating a balanced diet. Foods high in vitamin E include egg yolks, fortified cereals, liver, margarine and vegetable oils, nuts and seeds, peanut butter, seafood, whole grains and leafy, green vegetables.
Taking a vitamin E supplement is overkill for most people and could cause nausea and digestive tract problems. Anyone considering taking a vitamin E supplement should consult their doctor. Some health conditions make it difficult to absorb vitamins, while some medications may counteract the health benefits of vitamin E.
More research still needs to be done to fully determine the health benefits of vitamin E. It is not a miracle cure and should be taken as a supplement only under the supervision of a doctor.